In the computer business, it is understood that things will change and they will change fast. My first computer had 220 Megabytes of memory. It was one of those big boxes with a lot of air in it. I used zip drives to expand the memory but I managed to live with it for about 7 years. My next computer was a notebook. It had about 7 Gigabytes. And I still have about 6 Gigabytes on it that are free.
The computer I'm using tonight is a little tablet computer and it has 30 gigabytes. It's about the size of a text book. I use an external keyboard plugged into the USB port. And I have a nice Sony flat screen monitor. I "F5" the tablet screen so only the external monitor is on. That way, the little Acer runs cool enough as long as I keep it on a little cookie cooling tray which allows the air to circulate underneath it. My printers and externals are connected by a USB hub. All of my books are now on a little cruzer drive that plugs into it. I can put 10 years of words into my pocket and not even feel it.
In the computer business there is this embedded belief that the technology will change rapidly called Moore's Law. It is hailed as the foundation of the computer revolution — the first commandment of the tech industry. In its modern, popular form, it states that computer chips double in power for the same price every 18 months.
Considering that the rule has largely proved true, it means that Intel could fit 2,300 transistors on a silicon chip in 1971 and later this year will unveil a chip with 1.7 billion transistors. It's why your kid today can have an Emoto-tronic Furby that contains more computing power than NASA's Lunar Lander circa 1970.
This story by Kevin Maney tells the story of how Moores Law actually came into being.
The world learned of Moore's Law in a seemingly unremarkable article that Moore wrote for the April 19, 1965, issue of Electronics — a magazine read primarily by men who wore crew cuts, glasses with black plastic frames and short-sleeved white shirts, and who worked as engineers at places like General Dynamics.
To celebrate what the magazine dubbed as the 35th anniversary of electronics, it asked five people from the industry, including Moore, to write about the future of electronics.
In the magazine's credits, Moore — then at Fairchild Semiconductor, which he helped start before moving on to co-found Intel — was labeled "one of the new breed of electronic engineers."
Moore continued: "Integrated circuits will lead to such wonders as home computers — or at least terminals connected to a central computer — automated controls for automobiles, and personal portable communications equipment."
Not bad for 1965.
He basically caught PCs and cell phones.
In 1981, there were 213 host computers on the Internet. In seven years, there were 100,000. Four years after that there were a million. Two years later there were two million. Two years after that, 10 million. As we moved into the millennium, there were 100 million. Today, the number is somewhere around 400 million.
There were not a million cell phone subscribers until 1985. Ten years later there were 100 million. There are well over a billion today-roughly the amount of landlines in existence. Over 80 % of the inhabitants of Luxemburg have a mobile phone. Over 70% of the inhabitants (including children) of Taiwan, Austria, Norway, Italy, the United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden and Israel have a cell phone. The United States has a 40% saturation. China has a 7 % saturation, but it is the second largest market after the US. In Africa the number of cell phones surpassed the number of landlines in 2001. Most are prepaid.
The production of solar cells grew from 0.1 megawatts in 1971 to 7 megawatts in 1980. In 1990, annual production was 40 megawatts. 2002 saw almost 400 megawatts produced. In 2005, the number will be closer to 1200 MWs. That's a nuclear plant every year.
Wind energy has grown from a total of 10 megawatts in 1980, to 1000 MW in 1985. By 1998 there were 10,000 megawatts installed. There was 30,000 megawatts installed worldwide by the end of 2002. The number is approaching 50 Gigawatts today.
In 1988 there were 45 million fluorescent lamps sold worldwide. That number doubled in three years. There were a half billion sold in 2000, 100 million of them in North America.
William Nordhaus , an economist at Yale, has studied the historic trend of the continued efficiency of lighting. He has concluded that the efficiency of light production has improved by a factor of 30,000 from the cave dweller fire to the compact fluorescent of today. Since the time of the Babylonian lamp, efficiency has improved 1200 fold. He also gauged the cost of providing light. He concludes that an hour’s work today will provide 350 thousand times as much illumination as could be bought in early Babylonia.
Technology is improving almost everything at a rather remarkable pace.
Except maybe our lives.
And the likelihood of peace.And the quality of our poetry.
And the depth of our love.
And the hopes of our children.
And the greatness of our compassion.
And the decency of our discourse.
And our care for the poor.
And the goodness of our air.
And the purity of our water.
And the soundness of our minds.
And the sanctity of our souls.
And the purpose of our purpose.
That's why we need an Earthfamily.